How Do Cavities Form?
While your parents may have told you that eating too much sugar will rot your teeth, it’s not the sugar itself but the oral bacteria that eat the sugar which can lead to tooth decay. Much like the progression of gum disease, tooth decay and cavity formation occur along a series of predictable steps:
- S. mutans, a species of oral bacteria, feed on particles of sugar and secrete an acidic by-product that leaches minerals from your tooth enamel. This stage is called demineralization and Dr. K often recommends fluoride treatments and an improved at-home dental hygiene regimen to remineralize the area.
- If demineralization is not addressed, the acids produced by oral bacteria will continue to break down the enamel until it collapses in on itself, forming the characteristic pits we call cavities. Cavities, as you probably know, must be treated using dental fillings.
- If a filling is not placed and the decay is allowed to progress, it will descend into the dentin and pulp layers of a tooth. At this point most patients experience extreme sensitivity and pain, since the nerve-filled pulp has become infected. Root canal therapy or, in cases of extreme decay, total tooth extraction may be required.
Dental Filling Placement
Dental fillings are one of the most commonly performed restorative dental procedures and offer a conservative way to halt the progression of tooth decay and restore the health and function of a damaged tooth. If Dr. K recommends placing a filling, he will first numb the area and, if you feel particularly nervous, he can provide a gentle dental sedation option. Next, he will use special tools to remove the decayed enamel and tissue before thoroughly cleansing and disinfecting the area. Next, he will apply a color-matched composite resin material to fill in the cavity. Finally, he will allow the composite resin to harden before shaping and polishing the filling so it matches with your natural teeth.
Don’t Wait Until You have a Toothache!
It’s a common practice for people to avoid having fillings placed until a cavity begins to hurt. Unfortunately, this “if it doesn’t hurt, don’t fix it” philosophy can lead to potentially serious problems. If a cavity begins to hurt, that means the decay has reached the inner dentin and pulp layers of the tooth and, very often, problems like this cannot be addressed with a simple filling. Deep cavities require root canal therapy, a more complex, time-consuming, and expensive restorative procedure. In the end, it’s much easier – and healthier – to treat cavities as early as possible.
Exceptional Care and Comfort with Your Calabasas Dentist
At Calabasas Smiles, Dr. K and his staff of friendly, talented professionals look forward to caring for your smile. We provide a full menu of dental care services, from checkups and cleanings to dental implants. To schedule an appointment at our Calabasas dentist office, please contact us today at (818) 878-7300. We proudly serve patients and their families from Hidden Hills, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, West Hills, and the 91302 zip code area.